39: 50 Days of 3:16

Do you know any sports fanatics? They know the stats of their favourite team, they have the bio’s of their favourite players ingrained in their minds, maybe they have their own personal highlights of the team ready to share at any time? If the team has a distinct chant or song you know they have that down pat. Look in their closet and you will find a variety of shirts and jerseys with the logo. Most if not all of them are only connected to this team through the TV. Maybe they live close enough to have season passes but otherwise, they watch from afar. They have invested their lives into this team, yet they have no real stake in this team.

 

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Colossians 3:16

 

As believers, we should have somewhat of a similar investment in our faith. But unlike the team we support, following Christ is an investment that provides dividends to the believer. We are actually part of the body of believers, the Church where all the members are one. Yet we are also part of a team of local believers in a local church. Our investment in this local church and our support of it shows our passion to Christ. Have you ever met someone who is as passionate about their church as their favourite sports team? There are a few I can think of, but they are rare and far between. Why would then people be truly interested in attending your church if you are not passionate about it? And if you are not passionate about your church and what God is doing there why is that?

 

The local church is not meant to be a club where membership has its privileges. Most church membership is really just a way for the church to connect with the family. There are some voting things but it is not like a Costco membership with deals and savings for being a member. But each member is expected to make an investment in their time and yes money, to help grow the church not just in people but in spiritual maturity. We see here in the letter to the Colossian church that each believer has the ability to teach and admonish one another. Admonish means to build one another up in the faith, to encourage and for the lack of a better term fertilize. The work of God is infectious, Jesus was infectious, the more he did the large the crowds where that followed him out of curiosity. Ever revival in history has come out of obedience in prayer and the willingness of the church to do something. People then saw that the was doing something and were curious because the church was reaching out to them. If every member or churchgoer was to get involved and work to build one another up we would see more people curious about what your church is all about. If we personal talked about our church similarly to the way we love our team there would be a shift in perspective.

 

Lastly, when you meet with other believers where does your conversation go first? Weather? Politics? News? Gossip? Faith? I will be the first to admit that this has been a shortfall for me in the past. I tend to go with my ‘ favourite things’ as conversational pieces. Yet is not God one of my favourite things? He should be the centre of every conversation. We cannot expect others who do not know God to understand who He is if we never talk about Him and what He is doing in our lives, our church and our community. We need to be more active in our daily conversations including what Jesus has done for us. Like I mentioned two days ago, this isn’t something that we can overtask ourselves with, if we’re currently not doing it we need to go forward but not so far as to discourage ourselves. One step at a time and purposefully. If we don’t know how to swim we shouldn’t jump in the deep end, but that shouldn’t keep us out of the pool. Start doing something to bring the conversations back to God and what He is doing. What is more important, your team or eternal life?

 

Father, we need the wisdom to go beyond what we are doing now. We thank you that You have given us a family of believers in our local church. Help us to keep our eyes on you and what you are doing. Provide us with opportunities to share daily about your love. We want to be as excited if not more about your grace and faithfulness then our favourite things. Use us to reach those around us. Amen

 

(I used sports team in this, but it could easily be replaced with Movies, TV Show or any other thing you are excited about)

 

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34: 50 Days of 3:16

For many believer’s today’s verse has become the line in the sand about what we can and cannot do to our bodies. Should we have tattoos? better read 1 Corinthians 3:16. Drink? Look it up. Homosexuality, quick flip open the bible here. But what if we have for years been looking at this as a verse that focuses on the individual when maybe it was meant it be talking about the church. Keith Krell suggests that we should be talking about the church in this verse, not individuals. I tend to agree.

 

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

1 Corinthians 3:16

 

As believers, we are called to be part of the family. Groups of believers that gather are called churches but part of the global Church. So as God’s church (temple) we need to represent who God is to the world. All to often the church is filled with infighting and quarrels that the focus is on those things and not the mission of reaching the lost. They will say they are focused on the mission but there is no fruit, they have forgotten that they are God’s church and have become more of a club.

 

We see this as we are experiencing an expanding trend where believers are becoming part-time attendees. They may show up to church once a month. If something more important to them comes up they prioritize church as secondary and choose other activities. Participation in prayer meetings is at an all-time low, the faithful few showing up. Commitment to spiritual growth and discipline is being replaced with our own desires and wants. Membership in a local church is dwindling as those attending don’t see the importance of commitment. If this trend continues many churches as we know them will eventually close as they won’t have the people to run it.

 

The church needs to be reminded that they are part of God’s church. What they do in their communities, in the lives of those attending and those they support worldwide matters. God is using them if they will just open their lives and let him. When they join a group of believers each Sunday and throughout the week He is giving them vision and strength to go out and fulfil the mission they are called to. When they meet the Holy Spirit is stirring them up and giving them a renewed passion. Believers are stronger when united under the same mission. The enemy knows this and works very had to keep us away from joining in worship with others in the faith. He convinces us to stay up late on Saturday, so we are just too tired to go to church. We believe the lie and stay home.

 

Are you a part-time believer or participant in your church? Feel like God isn’t speaking to you and you don’t know anything about the plan he has for you? Take a good hard look at your habits and investments.  What has your heart? What do you love? Is it God or is it something else. What do you treasure most? Whatever that is will be what is most important to you and you will make a priority in your life. God wants to be what you treasure most. Can you honestly admit that he is?

 

Father God, thank you for everything you have done for us. Thank you for the church each of us belongs to, you use each one to bring others to know you. I pray for focus in the church that they will work to fulfil the mission and if there is any fighting among the family I pray for forgiveness and civility. Let the church rise up as one to preach redemption and hope. For those who are part-time believers, not committed, I pray as they have read this you have stirred their hearts and they have rededicated to you and the church you have placed them in. Let them impact their world through their commitment. You strengthen the church you will use us in amazing ways. Use us to change our world. Amen

34: Freed

In our journey in freedom, we will be tempted to return to the place we have been. There will be moments where it feels like we cannot endure what is happening to us. Many will feel alone in their situation not reaching out to anyone else and keep their struggle to themselves. When we do this, we lock ourselves in our own prison. We were never meant to do this alone.

 

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

1 Corinthians 10:13

 

To think that what your going through is unique and unlike anything else anyone has struggled with is a lie from the enemy. He wants you to dwell on it so much that you get in a deep depression becoming ineffective to fulfil the mission. There are those in the church who show up but haven’t shown up in years. They believe if the people knew what they were going through they would be kicked out and shunned. No one understands what they are going through, yet they remain in hopes that one day the problem will just go away.

 

This is a roadblock we put in our own way that keeps us from experience what God has for us. We need to open up to ourselves and others. When we freely let what is happening to us out and share it with others who follow the same God we can experience a freedom from our pain. Only then can we see that we are not the only one who has experienced this, the weight that has been on our shoulders will be lifted and we can begin to experience freedom.

 

God promises that we can overcome temptation. He promises that He is faithful. We can trust that God’s promises are true. I strong way to endure temptation is to partner with other believers. They will stand by us and help us as they have experienced many of the same things we are going through.

 

Father, thank you for your promise that we can overcome the temptations that come our way. For those struggling with revealing their sins and asking for help, I pray that they overcome this fear and put their trust in you. Help us to fulfil the mission of reaching the lost, let them see that there is hope in you. Let our community of believers be an example of your love for us. Amen

 

27: 50 Days Freed

Just because we are freed in Christ does not always mean that we do not end up walk back into another prison of our own making. If we isolate ourselves from other believers, we stunt our growth potential. Many do not go to church because they feel there are too many people who are broken, and they do not live the life they are preaching. The church is built for the broken, just as much as a hospital is built for the sick. If we expect everyone in the church to achieve perfection why would people on the outside want to come in? I know personally, I feel inadequate in the presence of those who think they’re perfect, I feel like they are judging me on my imperfection. The freeing part of a church is that it is made up of imperfect people, forgiven by God on a journey, working together to reach the world with love.

 

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47 NIV)

 

I wonder if we are doing things right these days? The formula in Acts 2 46-47, says the met at the temple every day together. They fellowshipped together, they praised God together, they enjoyed each others company. And the Lord added to their number daily. Awesome. What commitment they had to one another and the mission.

 

I guess the question is how do we apply this formula to our lives our church?
1) are you meeting regularly with your church family? Are you only at the church Sunday mornings and never think a second thought about it all week long? Do you join other members for a weekly bible study? If the church has daily times of prayer do you attend or if they did would you?
2) do you spend time with your church family outside of the church setting? Do you connect with them, invite them over, love them? Are we to busy with other things to make time to forge these relationships?
3) if you find to have them over do you praise God in those times if do you just talk about whatever is in the news.
4) have you taken time to meet the people in your church, expand past the few that you may know to experience others that God has placed in your church. God can use people you wouldn’t expect to touch your life if you would only say hello.

 

Why would the Lord add to their numbers for following this formula? Why would it be so easy for people to want to follow Christ if we lived like this? People are looking for a connection, they are looking for people who honestly and genuinely are true in what they believe. If your church group at the core is united and loving to each other it will be seen and people will be drawn to that. No one is drawn to bitterness. They are looking for freedom to be themselves and find what they have been searching for their whole lives.

 

I pray today, if you feel disconnected with your church family, maybe you have been attending for decades or days, it is not too late to connect, start plugging into your family if believers. Invite people to fellowship with you. Start a weekly bible study, ask your church to start opening up the church for open prayer, get involved, love your brothers and sisters in Christ. And most important Forgive them as Christ has forgiven you. There is a freedom in a relationship with Jesus and with your fellow believers.

 

Father, help us to connect with our family of believers. We trust as we connect you will draw others to join us and grow in you. Let us disciple others in the faith. Bless the church, so that we may bless the community around us. Amen

 

Day 49: 50 Days All In

If you have asked yourself can I be a solo Christian, someone who can do it on their own not needing a church family to connect with, I would recommend studying the verse today. There are many men and women who have this attitude that the church is corrupt and broken, a place of hypocrites and vagabonds. I can make it better on my own they say, I can read books and watch or listen to various preachers. I don’t need to be associated with any group of believers, they will only drag me down. As we come to a close in our study of being all in what did Jesus have to say about going it alone.
 
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
John 17:20-23 NLT
This just isn’t something the church made up to keep people in the seats and shelling out cash. We are called into the family of God. Jesus in this passage asks his Father to help us be one with each other. Other times he calls us the body, a group who are dependant on each of them, supporting each other and are essential for functionality. We don’t live in a reality of the Adams Family where Thing (a lone hand) can run around independently and survive. In reality, a hand cut off will drain of life and die.
Separating yourself from the church family will cause you to lose focus and purpose. You see this all the time when students who come from Christian homes with Christian values go off to university and don’t quickly plug into a Christ believing church. Their values and purpose get distorted by the adopted school family they replace Christ with. We wonder why they have fallen away. Churches that are located near Colleges and Universities need to be there with open arms to these students.
So maybe you feel your church is dysfunctional and you are ready to leave, maybe you need to realize that the grass isn’t always greener. I challenge you to not give up. Don’t abandon the family, invest in it. Work towards the health, fight for the family. Take some time to self-evaluate and see what you are doing in the church, are you part of the problem or part of the solution. Don’t give in to the temptation to walk away from the problem, tackle it with prayer and communication. Pray that church becomes effective in the mission of reaching others. Be positive about your church, build it up. Love your family. Being in an all in relationship with God means being part of a family of believers. You cannot avoid it.
Father, too many Christians are dissatisfied with their church family. I pray that we start loving it and building it up. I ask that we start working harder at the mission of reaching others. I thank you for what you are doing, thank you for the dreams and visions you are giving the leadership of your church, I pray for workers and warriors who will work to fulfil these dreams and visions. Let us as a church become more effective in sharing your love to others as they matter to you so they should matter to us. We want an all in relationship with you, make us stronger in this resolve. Amen
 
 
 

Day 27: 50 Days All In

People over the years have come to believe that the “grass is greener on the other side” when it comes to problems in their church. They feel that if things aren’t going their way or they don’t like what’s happening well the church across town does things better and will welcome them with open arms. Jumping from one church to another may feel like the right thing to do but if we want to have an all in relationship with God we need to be rooted in a family of believers, this can’t be done if you are uprooted every other month or year.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 NLT
We all know the truth that it isn’t always greener, yet we have convinced ourselves that what we have is so damaged that nothing can be done to fix it. The grass may be greener on the other side, yet it may be artificial grass. No roots and what you see is what you get. Once you get there you may feel fine, but then pull back a seam and realize that under the turf they were no different than the church you left.
All churches are filled with imperfect people with imperfect problems. Every church has people quick to anger, bad decisions being made (in your opinion or otherwise), slow to forgive and broken. No church in itself can meet all your needs as they are imperfect. The one we serve is perfect. The one we go to church to worship is perfect. If he is the focus and driving forces behind your church, then that’s what matters.
Grass grows where it is watered. The grass is greenest when it is maintained. If members of the church (not visitors but regulars) are working to maintain the grass then the other side won’t look inviting anymore. Are you invested in your church? Don’t like something pray about it, support it anyways, ask God to use it despite your view on it. A church that is growing in Jesus, will show its fruit by having new people coming and people giving their hearts to Jesus.
Are you watering your grass? Or are you complaining about it? Find your church’s mission and vision statement, make that your prayer. Work with others in your church family to work towards fulfilling the purpose of the church, reaching those in need. Let’s do something and our all in relationship with God will grow much fruit.
Jesus, so many of us find it easy to complain. I pray that we start to turn our complaints into action. Let us start building up, maintaining, working and watering our church so that it becomes vibrant and alive. Let us be effective in reaching others for you. The people who are lost matter to you, so they matter to me. Amen
 

Day 48: 50 Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: Oman

We pray today for the believers in Oman. The laws of the ruling government provide a freedom to practice religions but only if they don’t conflict with established customs, public policies or public morals.
 
Of the population of 3.6 million, there are about 236 thousand believers. For more information check out Open Doors USA.
 
 
 
 
Father, we pray for Oman. We pray for the children who become entangled in between their beliefs and faith in God and the pressures they receive from families and schools to conform. We pray for the strength of these children to overcome these obstacles and become powerful witnesses for you. Provide these people with resources to learn more about you, if they don’t have access to bibles I pray that they will become available to them. Move among the people of Oman, rise up a church strong and willing to share your love with their neighbours. Amen